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« to teach” those to whom it was truths of the gospel by the evanto be administered; of which in- gelist Philip, received this sacred fant children, we know, were, and rite, it was connected with the viever will be, altogether incapable. sibility, or profession, of a saving
The gospel was to be preached, faith. I remark, further, that the and when, under the powerful in- words of the institution, while fuence of the Holy Spirit, its sav. they imply what has already been ing efficacy should be experienced, stated, indicate also, that teaching the subjects of this blessed opera- should accompany the celebration tion were, on their profession of of Christian baptism. Accordingtheir faith in Christ and obedience ly, our Directory for worship reto him, to receive this seal of his quires, that “ before baptism, the gracious covenant, and to be en- minister use some words of inrolled as members of his visible struction respecting the instituchurch. This was accordingly tion, nature, and ends of this ordidone both to Jews and Gentiles in nance." the apostolick age, and was pre Private baptism, although not scribed in the command, to be done forbidden either by the divine in every successive age to the end word or the standards of our of the world. But although Hea- church, but recognised by both, as then, Jews, and Infidels, and the lawful in special cases, ought, neignorant and uninformed among vertheless, to be regarded only as professing Christians, and even an exception to a general rule. If those who had been ever so well the united prayers of God's peoinstructed, were not to be baptized ple in publick worship are valuatill they were prepared to make a ble on any occasion, they certainly credible profession of sincere faith
are so on this; the witnessing of in Christ and obedience to him; the ordinance also, is calculated yet, as soon as they were thus pre- to be useful to every spectator; pared, no matter what might have and when an addition is made to been their previous character, they the members of the church, whewere, by this ordinance, to be ad- ther those members be in adult or mitted into the visible Christian infant age, there is an evident church.
propriety that, in ordinary cases, That a profession which implies it should be made publickly. a saving reception of evangelical It is evident from the circumcitruth, is to be made by all who re- sion of John the Baptist, that a ceive baptism in adult age, may be name was given, when that rite was gathered from the command to administered by the Jews,* and it “ teach” the recipients of this sa- it is usually given in the adminiscrament to disciple them it is in tration of Christian baptism. But the original-to observe all things the remark of Dr. Doddridge on whatsoever, which Christ deliver this subject is, in my apprehension, ed to his apostles: for the injunc- both just and important. He saystion here given manifestly related “ The giving the child its name, to a teaching which should be effec- was no more a part of the original tive; and which appears to be so, intent of circumcision than of bapat the, administration of the ordi- tism: it was an incidental circumnance. But in regard to this point, stance that custom had added. we have example as well as infer
* The Bible certainly contains no preence. We find that when those cept relative to the giving of a name when who were converted under the the rite of circumcision was celebrated. preaching of Peter on the day of Yet the conjecture seems not improbable, Pentecost, and the Ethiopian eu
that the usage originated from the cir
cumstance that Abram was called Abre. nuch who was taught the essential ham, when circumcision was appointed.
And I cannot forbear saying that, by the neglect of duty, is a princiin administering the Christian or- ple which few will deny, and dinance, I think care should be which we shall here take for granttaken to order the voice, so that it ed. On this principle, many may plainly appear we only then churches in our communion, respeak to the child by the name that garding a neglect of the express hath been already given it.” command of Christ in regard to
2. The second, and affirmative the sacramental supper,“ Do this part of the answer now under con in remembrance of me, as marksideration is," that the infants of ing, in all cases, a very censurable such as are members of the visible deficiency in Christian duty, exchurch are to be baptized.” clude from the privilege of offer
The first question here seems to ing their children in baptism, all be,“ Who are members of the vi. who are chargeable with this nesible church?” To this, our larger glect; although they are the offcatechism, in exact accordance spring of believing parents, and the with Chap. xxv. of the Confession general aspect of their character, of Faith, answers—“The visible and the declared exercises of their church is a society made up of all mind, are such as would othersuch as in all ages and places of wise entitle them to the privilege the world, profess the true reli- which is denied them. Other gion, and of their children;" and churches in our communion think our form of government, chap. ii. this system unduly rigorous, and sec. 4, says—"A particular church adopt a different practice. This consists of a number of professing subject has been referred to the Christians, with their offspring, vo- supreme judicatory of our church luntarily associated together, for in repeated instances; and the redivine worship, and godly living, sult has been, that each particular agreeably to the Holy Scriptures; church has been left to pursue, in and submitting to a certain form this matter, the course which to of government." Agreeably to them may appear most conformathese constitutional articles of the ble to the principles of the gospel, Presbyterian Church, which the and most conducive to Christian passages of Scripture, to which edification. they refer, clearly show to be in I have hesitated, my young conformity with the unerring ora- friends, whether I would introduce cles of God, it appears that the this topick at all, in the course children, or offspring of church of lectures which I am now delimembers, are themselves members vering to you.
vering to you. But being willing, of the church, as really and fully on every topick of religion and as their parents; and all that we morals, to make, on all proper ochave said hitherto on the subject casions, a frank avowal of my senof baptism is in coincidence with timents, and considering that the this idea. The offsping of pro- matter in question is one of pracfessing believers, then, having, by tice in the Presbyterian church, I their birth and baptism, a com thought on the whole, that my plete standing in the visible duty required that I should offer church, have, it appears, a right to you my sentiments upon it. This, present their children in baptism; however, I must do briefly and unless they forfeit this right by summarily, as the nature of these such acts or neglects as justly to lectures do not admit, in any case, subject them to the discipline of of an extended discussion. Let me the church: and that this right then be understood as delivering may be forfeited or suspended, my own individual sentiments, and both by actual transgression and not as advocating any opinions or
any practice inconsistent with the is extremely difficult to satisfy or statement I make. With regret remove. In the congregation in and grief I admit, that in some which I was born and brought up, churches of our denomination, and in which what is called the there is what appears to me a very strict plan was most strictly fol. criminal laxness, in regard to the lowed, there was a man who was administration of this ordinance. ' regarded by its pastor, my own faNeither have I any belief in such a ther, as second to no man in his thing as a half way covenant; nor charge, as an exemplary Chrisam I prepared to say that the es- tian, and yet this man never could, sential qualifications for participa- and to the day of his death, I be tion in both sacraments are not the lieve, never did, get his own consame: and I distinctly say, that sent to approach the table of the baptism, in my judgment, ought Lord-nor were his children bapnot to be administered to those tized. It is no very uncommon of whom there is not reasonable thing for a communicant of deground to believe, after examina- cided Christian character, after tion and inquiry, that the requisi- partaking of the eucharist for tions of duty specified in the vii. years in succession, to become so chapter of our Directory for Wor- scrupulous in regard to his fitness ship will be solemnly regarded, and to sit down at the Lord's table, as their performance conscientiously to absent himself from it for a seaendeavoured. All this notwith- son-in some instances for a long standing, I cannot make absti- season. Are persons of this denence from the Lord's supper, the scription fit subjects for discipline? ground, in all cases, of precluding I think not; on the contrary, it from the privilege of devoting their seems to me they are subjects for infant offspring to God in baptism, much Christian sympathy, and some who are desirous of doing it, great tenderness of treatment. And although they cannot, for the pre- should such individuals as those sent, view themselves as prepared to whom in the two foregoing into go to the table of the Lord. It stances I have referred, be willing is one thing for me to be willing to and desirous to offer their children admit a person to the holy com in baptism-and so they might munion, and another thing for that be ought they to be refused? person to be willing to come; one My answer is decidedly in the nething to be actually prepared to gative. It may be said, I am aware, come, and another thing to be sa that the refusal of baptism, in such tisfied that such is the fact; one cases, might be the means of thing to be confounded and si- bringing the parties the sooner to lenced by arguments, which go to the full discharge of duty; but I show that if you are prepared for cannot persuade myself that the one sacrament you must also be Saviour, who taught his disciples prepared for the other, and ano as they were able to bear it," and ther thing to be so convinced and bore with their infirmities to a satisfied of this, as to have free- very great extent; nor the apostle dom to act in so solemn a concern. who enjoined so much tenderness Confusion and silence are not sa toward those who were weak in tisfaction or conviction.
faith," and "babes in Christ," From whatever cause it may would either have inflicted disci. arise, the fact is indisputable, that pline in any such case, or rethere is in some minds—and they fused any privilege of which the are often among the best minds--a parties concerned
were willing scrupulous tenderness about going and desirous to avail themselves. to the table of the Lord, which it Doubtless, all hollow pretences,
and all fabricated or lightly form- them again, and endeavour to aid ed excuses are, when manifest, to them in attaining such preparabe utterly disregarded; but where tion as that he may eventually there is good evidence of real con- admit them, with freedom on his scientiousness, and a careful re- part and advantage on theirs, 10 gard and attention to Christian this sacred rite. And if such produties in general, I would never cedure as is here stated give ofpreclude an individual from any fence, as in some instances it may, Christian privilege, that he was it is a clear indication that the pardisposed to claim.
ties concerned ought to be refused On the whole then, I would say, the privilege which they seek, let all profane persons, all neglect- till they manifest a better spirit. ers of publick or family worship, all This system, I am fully aware, who are uninstructed in the nature will give a pastor far more trouof the sacrament of baptism and ble, than that in which baptism is the solemn duties which it imposes, at once refused to all who do not all, in a word, as has already been partake of the other sacrament. said, in regard to whom there is But it will be trouble well taken; not reason to hope and expect that for, if I mistake not greatly, the they will conscientiously endea- course contemplated will be atvour to comply with the obliga- tended with several very important tions which they come under in advantages. It is calculated, when the baptismal service-let all such properly conducted, to gain for a be refused baptism for their chil- pastor a high degree of confidence dren, till they are better prepared and affection from his people, esto be admitted to the privilege: pecially from the younger part of but let all such be admitted, as are his charge; and it will give him a not chargeable with any of the most desirable opportunity to learn disqualifications now specified. the state of their minds, and to adWhen the first application for dress to them instruction and counbaptism is made by parents not in sel of the most appropriate and full communion with the church, beneficial kind; it will often furlet the pastor see them by them- nish him with information that selves; inquire into their know- will be of great use in his publick ledge of the nature of baptism, preaching; and it will not unfreand the obligations it involves; quently result in bringing into the instruct them, if they need it; full communion of the church a learn the state of their minds in number who will be among its regard to religious duty in ge- brightest ornaments; but who neral; remind them that there is might otherwise long deprive themanother sacrament, in the neglect selves of an invaluable and comof which they cannot live content. fortable privilege, and the church edly without sin; converse with of the advantage of their example, them in a very tender, serious, and and of their aid and influence. impressive manner; and conclude The truth is, that in most of with as solemn, appropriate, and the churches of our denominaaffecting a prayer as he can offer. tion, there is a mournful disregard If he find, as he probably some of the duty which ought to be pertimes will, that the parties need formed toward baptized children. more instruction, or en- They are not viewed and treated gagedness in religion than they as members of the church at all, possess at his first visit, let him, nor more regard shown to them with affectionate fidelity, tell them than to those who are unbaptized. so; defer, for a short time, a com- This is a grievous and very crimipliance with their request, visit nal neglect. If baptized children
were often reminded, both by their dren, in these mixed cases, were parents and by the pastors and unclean, and must be looked upon elders of the churches, of their as unfit to be admitted to those early consecration to God, and peculiar ordinances by which the their actual standing as members seed of God's people are distinof the church of Christ; and guished; but now they are confessif they were, with great affec. edly holy, and are as readily adtion and kindness instructed in mitted to baptism in all our their duty, and the performance churches, as if both the parents of it was brought home to their were Christians; so that the case consciences; and if to all this, you see, is in effect decided by this much earnest and special prayer prevailing practice.” were constantly offered to God in The note is as follows: their behalf, we should see num “On the maturest and most imbers of them more early, and with partial consideration of this text, no objection from any quarter, I must judge it to refer to infant partaking of both the sacraments baptism. Nothing can be more which our merciful God and Sa- apparent than that the word holy, viour has instituted for the com- signifies persons, who might be adfort and edification of his church. mitted to partake of the distin
As to those who are in the full guishing rites of God's people. communion of the church, no ar- Compare Exod. xix. 6; Deut. vii. gument is necessary to show their 6; chap. xiv. 2; chap. xxvi. 19; claim to present their children in chap. xxxiii. 3; Ezra ix. 2; with baptism, if such a claim be granted Isa. XXXV. 8; chap. lii. 1; Acts 1. to any in the word of God-On 28, &c. And as for the interprethis point there is no controversy, tation, which so many of our The portion also of our Standards brethren, the Baptists, have conwhich teaches, that if either parent tended for, that holy signifies legiof a child be a church member timate, and unclean, illegitimate; the child is entitled to baptism, is (not to urge that this seems an unfairly and firmly grounded on the scriptural sense of the word,) nopassage of scripture to which our thing can be more evident, than Confession of Faith and Larger that the argument will by no Catechism refer, 1 Cor. vii. 14. means bear it; for it would be "The unbelieving husband is sanc- proving a thing by itself, idem per tified by the wife; and the unbe- idem, to argue that the converse of lieving wife is sanctified by the the parents was lawful, because the husband: else were your children children were not bastards; whereunclean, but now are they holy.” as all who thought the converse If this text has not a reference to of the parents unlawful, must of infant baptism, it seems to be in course think that the children were capable of any rational explana- illegitimate." tion; but with such a reference, The comment of Scott on this its meaning is plain and pertinent. passage is to the same effect as I will give you the paraphrase of that of Doddridge, and is well Doddridge on the words, and the worthy of your perusal. note with which he accompanies it. But you are aware that there is
_“ For in such a case as this, the a large denomination of Protestant unbelieving husband is so sanctified Christians, who admit that the saby the wife, and the unbelieving crament of baptism is of divine inwife is so sanctified by the husband, stitution, and of perpetual obligathat their matrimonial converse is tion, and yet deny that it is, in any as lawful as if they were both of case, to be administered to infant the same faith: 'otherwise your chil children, or to youth in nonage.